Protect Your Teeth at the Holiday Dinner Table

Even though it is warm and beautiful in sunny Cupertino, we’re celebrating the holidays at La From Dentistry. Everyone looks forward to delicious holiday foods, savory sweets, and tasty treats at this time of year. There’s nothing like sitting down at the table with family and friends and enjoying a great meal together. Unfortunately, your mouth might not feel the same.

I am Dr. Randy LaFrom, and I want to tell you about the impact holiday foods can have on your teeth. Recent dental research from the University of Rochester Medical Center brings both good and bad news to those of us who like to indulge during the holidays.

The bad news: Our mouths contain thousands of types of bacteria, some good and some harmful. Streptococcus mutans, also known as S. mutans, are a type of harmful bacteria that live and thrive inside the oral cavity. Pies, cookies, and other sugary confections tend to be staples on the holiday table. As we feast on these desserts, so do S. mutans and other bacteria. The sugars that stick to our teeth to become an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Dr. Michel Koo, a dentist turned food scientist and microbiologist, is exploring the destructive power of S. mutans and how to prevent tooth decay. It appears that this particular kind of bacteria is even stronger than scientists originally thought. S. mutans have the ability to change as the conditions of our mouths change, meaning that as our saliva breaks down starches, S. mutans kick its glucan and plaque-forming machinery into high-gear.

The good news: Some foods common at the holiday dinner table offer new leads in the effort to stop tooth decay. Dr. Koo has discovered that compounds within cranberry disrupt enzymes that S. mutans and other bacteria use to produce glucans. Without these enzymes, bacteria in plaque become vulnerable and cannot stick to teeth, therefore they cannot harm tooth enamel. Although the exact compounds have not yet been identified, the production of S. mutans was decreased by up to 70% and cavity formation was decreased by up to 45% when the cranberry compounds were present. Surprisingly, red wine also has an effect on cavity prevention. It has been proven that the abundant waste from the red-wine-making process, such as fermented seeds and grape skin, contain compounds that fight S. mutans. Compounds in red wine inhibit the activity of bacterial enzymes by as much as 85%.

To protect your  mouth during the holidays, just take care of your teeth. It’s simple. Brush your teeth, avoid foods filled with sugars as much as possible, and don’t snack often. Your mouth, and your waistline, will thank you.

It is also incredibly important to have your teeth cleaned regularly. To schedule your post-holiday dental cleaning, please contact my office. Happy holidays to you and your family from LaFrom Dentistry!

~ by cupertinodentist on December 4, 2010.

One Response to “Protect Your Teeth at the Holiday Dinner Table”

  1. […] is Thanksgiving, so it’s likely that you’re preparing to gather with your loved ones, eat some delicious food, and enjoy the […]

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